It was all Joey's idea, as soon as school was out for summer. And I'm so glad he had it, because later it turned out he and Scout had to miss most of the big Beatty family trip, and he was super bummed about that. Luckily by that point we had made a hundred extraordinary summer memories already.
"How about we plan a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium?" Joey suggested in late May. He made the camping arrangements at Manresa State Beach for the third week of June. At first Darin was going to come along, but then it turned out he had to work. Luckily by this point I've become quite confident about taking the girls camping on my own, setting up our own gear and being solo road trip mom. And it quickly became a family affair as everybody else started jumping on the bandwagon: Addie, Art and Utah were ready for a getaway, and Pops is always up for anything.
|Stopped for an early dinner at an old fave in Santa Cruz.|
|Herding these energetic kids around Santa Cruz was quite an adventure!|
Getting around the southeast bay area, no matter how you try to skirt it, is a nightmare. Lately it seems to take two extra hours to finally make it down through San Jose and cross over into woods and mountains again (phew!) and into Santa Cruz. I don't even mind the crowded curves of Hwy. 17 once you're back into the forest at least. We made it (frustrated but alive), and headed straight into downtown Santa Cruz, which is busy too, but refreshing and familiar and beach-towny, to grab a quick meal. Of course, everything takes longer than you expect, especially with two three-year-olds and a four-year-old who have been stuck in the car for hours. At Planet Fresh we met a friendly surf instructor and his entire camp of jubilant would-be surfer teens, who later turned out to be camping at our same campground! At last we made it south to Manresa and set up camp before sunset, and it all was worth it. It turns out out campsite was a walk-in site, so carrying all our gear with my little "helpers" was an unforeseen challenge, but it also made it more special. We were tucked away from cars, from parking lots, from anything extraneous, in a pretty little woodsy cove with a 1/3 mile path to the beach. Just beware of the walls of poison oak!
|Okay, Joey probably helped me a little with the gear.|
|Three little cousins who love to wake up to each other's faces.|
As per their uze, Addie and Art had rolled in about midnight and hurriedly stumbled in and set up camp.
|Art rocking and rolling next morning.|
After coffee and breakfast, Joey and I took the girls down the pleasant little butterfly-escorted path to the beach. There was a rustic amphitheater they romped around in for awhile, singing Moana songs of course. And then we spent a couple of perfect hours at the beach. Joey brought a kite and the girls played in a driftwood fort. We found an injured bird that we could really do nothing for except offer kind words.
Addie, Art and Utah do their mornings a little later, but they joined us for a few minutes, looking pretty stylin.
But we all agreed it was time to move on to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. As it was, we didn't arrive there until about 2:00 and it's only open until 6:00 p.m! But we hit the ground running, inhaling every moment, every interesting creature, every seahorse, mollusk, shark, surprise.
|I got to pet a bat ray this time! This is Tootie's favorite sea creature, and she got to pet it too. It really felt good, so firm and strong under our questioning fingertips.|
|Joey made one put on a show somehow, I guess by putting his hand in the water? It went up against the side and started flapping like crazy! Collective gasp, as it felt like some inter-species communication was going on!|
|We love the touch zone.|
|Polly's favorite area was probably the wave tunnel; she could NOT get enough!!!|
|All the kids love it!|
|Souvenir decisions are a really big deal.|
|My very favorite exhibit was the Tentacles Room. I fell even more in love with cuttlefish than before, and delighted in the octopus's weird undulations. Plus, the mythology behind them!|
"Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep,
The Kraken sleepeth..."
-- Alfred Lord Tennyson
This was especially fun for us because Lucy has memorized a kids' version of the Kraken that she repeats all the time:
"Neath icelocked waves the Kracken lies
In wait for passing ships,
To gobble them up as you or I
Might munch potato chips."
-- X.J. Kennedy
(It's from this book that Joey got her last Christmas.)
|I have a crush on you, cuttlefish.|
|Thanks for the whole idea Joey!|
After the aquarium closed, we were starving and found ourselves roaming Cannery Row, amongst the gathered and scattered.
“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitant are, as the man once said, "whores, pimps, gambler and sons of bitches," by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, "Saints and angels and martyrs and holymen" and he would have meant the same thing.”
Up the street, the girls went wild for these balloons and the young lady that owns this shop made sure to blow them each up their own balloon with her helium tank, even putting up with squabbles about color. She was seriously badass and I recommend her shop.
After some indecision and dead ends, we ended up at Gianni's on Lighthouse for pizza and pasta, and it could not have been more comfortable or family friendly, so that was a plus.
We stopped and bought all kinds of marshmallows and chocolate, but the kids were so exhausted they all (except night-owl Utah) fell asleep on the way back to camp. Even us grown-ups were pretty worn out.
But there's always plenty of french press coffee on camping mornings.
It was a weird morning because we were all worried about Pops, who had left super early to go pick up our niece Bella at the Oakland airport and then get back down to Santa Cruz and meet us all at the Boardwalk. If you know our lovable but oft-distracted dad, you can see our concern, but he was the only adult (since he wasn't parenting) that could reasonably pack up and leave by six a.m. In any case, we got word about 9:00 a.m. that all had gone smoothly, he'd made it through morning traffic in a breeze, navigated the airport and the pick up, and he and Bella were now safely on their way back to meet us! We were ecstatic, seeing as how we had worried about him even finding his way out of the campground. Don't tell him we said that, please ;)
Finding parking near the Boardwalk is never fun. If anyone has tricks, I'll pay you.
At least we got to walk by this cute building on our way in.
(And at least Joey only had to sprint a few miles to feed the meter twice during the day, and at least we only had one parking ticket in the group). (Sorry Pops.)
We went straight into the arcade area and found our greatest delight: BELLA!!! She had decided to come out to California early; her family would be joining her in a week. California got Bella a whole extra week, and there's no exaggerating that bounty. She sweeps the kids right up, always has a fun game or idea up her sleeve, has infinite curiosity in the world around her, and has an unquenchable thirst for adventure and fun. She's the coolest 13 year old girl ever.
|Pretty cute couple, don't you think?|
|Addie and Art probably wasted twenty bucks winning these for the girls.|
And then...we couldn't resist... to the water! Polly got completely soaked running into the waves. She didn't even care about rides, she never wanted to leave the ocean! Bella is right there with her.
|Once Utah found us, he got soaked too!|
|Scouty plops on the beach and works on a sand project with great concentration, every time.|
But onward to the rides!
Oh, and funnel cake, and smoothies, and beer....
|This was Toot's favorite: the Rock n' Roller, which she got to ride with Bella so she felt really special.|
|gettin tired, but still going....|
Best of all was probably the Logger ride. We bought the funny picture at the end, with the girls mouths' agape in hilarious horror, and the adults laughing their heads off, but I didn't take any with my regular camera to show you here. It's sooooo much fun, the gentle curves around the top, looking out at the view, the ocean and the parking lot: the kids feel so high up and so free, little hearts pattering, water spraying around the corners, sloshing through the sky. But most of all, of course, it's that feeling of dropping down into that big splash, that moment lasts forever!
Both Scout and Utah both had to ride it again, immediately.
|Just before leaving, we all gathered to watch Bella and Joey ride the Drop Tower. Pops helped me with the kids, who were basically rolling around on the ground at this point. It was worth it to see Joey and Bella's look of thrill!|
It was late when we were leaving Santa Cruz, and we had to drive all the way back to Placerville, so we had to hit the road. Pops was heading down to L.A. to visit Mikie from here, and we had lost Addie and Art at some point late in the Boardwalk mayhem.
But we made one more Santa Cruz stop: an old stand-by, Saturn Cafe. It was empty; our server was amazing; there are a million vegetarian options; the kids colored: basically perfection.
And then I drove until 2 a.m. while the kids slept and Joey used his phone to research and help a very tired on-his-own Pops finally find a midnight motel room (which proved to be nearly an impossible task, oddly enough). And then, the girls woke up bawling ten minutes from home.
What a whirlwind! But I keep imagining that path to the beach at Manresa and that cool air, and every fun little delight that happened along our way, and it's one more trip whose memories make summer last all year.